Two men have been jailed after a vulnerable child was raped and sexually abused by more than a dozen members of a grooming gang.
Mohammed Akram, 33, and Usman Khalid, 31, were two of those who abused the victim – known as Girl N – in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, between 2004 and 2011.
Akram had his prison sentence increased from 17 years to 22 years and Khalid was locked up for five years at Leeds Crown Court – bringing the total jail time as the result of a police operation into vile sex gangs to 267 years.
The pair’s sentencing marks the end of the first phase of West Yorkshire Police’s Operation Tendersea – a long-running and ongoing investigation into child sexual exploitation.
Usman Khalid (left) Mohammed Akram (right) art Leeds Crown Court together
Girl N was groomed at the age of 11 and passed around members of the gang, who even went so far as to abduct her from a care home.
Akram, also known as Kid, sexually abused her when she was aged 12 and he was aged 19 or 20 and repeatedly raped her a few years later.
Khalid, also known as Gujji, previously of Brook Street, Huddersfield, sexually abused her on one occasion when she was aged 12 and he was aged 16 or 17.
Akram was convicted of rape of a child under the age of 13, three counts of rape, abduction of a child, trafficking for sexual exploitation and sexual assault.
Khalid was convicted of sexual assault.
Judge Simon Phillips QC, who presided over the pair’s three-week trial, described the case as ‘a tragic tale of human misery and suffering’.
Mohammed Akram, 33, had his prison sentence increased from 17 years to 22 years and Usman Khalid, 31, was locked up for five years at Leeds Crown Court
He acknowledged that the victim had been let down by a number of professionals who were unable to ward away the ‘malevolent influences that were ever present’.
The judge told the defendants: ‘You and others exploited her in the most cynical and depraved way imaginable. You gave her alcohol and drugs and then sexually abused her.’
Akram was also convicted as part of Operation Tendersea last year, meaning this is the second time he has been convicted as part of the investigation.
He was convicted of trafficking two other girls for sexual exploitation and repeatedly raping one of those girls.
His 22-year sentence for his latest convictions will be served concurrently to his 17-year prison sentence.
Both defendants will be made subject to sexual offender notification requirements for life and sexual harm prevention orders.
From 2018 to today, Operation Tendersea has seen 21 men convicted and jailed for a total of 267 years.
Usman Khalid attempts to avoid cameras as he leaves Leeds Crown Court, West Yorks., after the start of his trial into child grooming, April 29 2019
Eighteen officers and staff from the force, including Sgt Hayley Nortcliffe and DC Rachel Cooper, were commended for their work by the judge, who presided over the latest two trials, and Judge Geoffrey Marson QC, who presided over the first two trials.
Supt Marianne Huison, of Kirklees District Police, also praised the victim’s bravery, adding: ‘The abuse these individuals subjected a young and vulnerable girl to during the early years of her life was beyond comprehension and has continued to have a significant impact on her life.
Akram’s barrister Kitty Colley said her client, a former employee of Huddersfield Taxis, settled down and married in his early twenties which changed his approach to life.
During the trial in May 2018, his baby died. Ms Colley said Akram is no longer there to support his grieving family.
Khalid’s barrister Gillian Batts said her client’s offence was a one-off.
Khalid, who is also married, was described in court as ‘a caring and compassionate family man’ and ‘a humbled and focused individual’.
The trial heard how Girl N’s mother was an alcohol and drug addict and men would tell her they would look after her daughter.
Usman Khalid leaves Leeds Crown Court after appearing on charges related to sexual assault and child abduction
At the age of 11, she was groomed by takeaway worker Zahid Hassan, also known as Little Manny.
She was sexually abused by Hassan, Akram, and Khalid and she says up to 17 other men over the course of the following years.
She was taken into care, but the abuse did not end. She said that instead of living or dreaming of ‘a fairy tale life’, she was ‘pimped out and passed on with no say’.
Akram, Hassan, and another man abducted her from a children’s home and Akram repeatedly raped her in a house a few years later.
In a victim personal statement made last year, Girl N criticised the care system.
She seen in her social worker’s notes that she was called ‘a prostitute’.
She felt she was labelled ‘a difficult child’ and ‘not worthy of being asked’ about the cause of her bad behaviour, adding: ‘I felt like I already had the label of junkie’s daughter and then I had the label of child prostitute.’
She said she has no trust in any of the agencies who were there to help me and would never go to the police.
Girl N said: ‘When police from Operation Tendersea contacted me and this all got brought up again, I felt like the hell of a life I had tried to run a million miles from was happening all over again.’
Akram and Khalid went on trial in April at Leeds Crown Court (pictured) along with two women
She said it disgusted her that an adult can do ‘inhumane things to such a vulnerable child’, adding: ‘Reliving the vile things they done to me as a child has made me not want to live.’
When an officer in the Operation Tendersea investigation asked her why she had condoms in her handbag, she said: ‘Why did no one ask me that while I was still a child?’
She said she was emotional about having to tell jurors her story in court and felt exposed by strangers learning her story in the press.
In another statement, Girl N said the latest trial was the hardest thing she has ever had to do.
She said she felt worse about this trial as she was the only victim involved with no other victims to corroborate her story, adding: ‘Reliving the vile things they done to me as a child has made me not want to live.’
But she bravely returned to court for the sentencing hearing, saying: ‘I am here as a survivor and not a victim.’
The judge said: ‘It is a testament to her resilience as a human being that she has been able to attend court and tell a jury about the wrongs done to her as a child.’
Last year Hassan, now aged 30, previously of Bland Street, Huddersfield, was convicted of abusing Girl N and others and is now serving an 18-year prison sentence.